The 2019 Missouri Valley Coach of the Year Darian DeVries showed exactly why he was deserving of winning the award. Coaching in his first-ever conference tournament as a head coach, the Drake Bulldogs played exactly like the MVC regular season champions and the No. 2 seed.
In a season battling significant injuries, grad-transfer guard Nick Norton halfway through this season and freshman guard D.J. Wilkins right before the Arch Madness, Drake and DeVries had to deal with another injury during Friday night’s game to their most important player, Nick McGlynn.
McGlynn left the game with a right knee injury in the first half and was out for the rest of the game, returning to the bench out of the locker room with a brace on.
“We’re not sure what his status will be. We’ll hopefully find out a little later tonight or tomorrow morning. He couldn’t compete today. Would love to have him back. Obviously, he’s meant a lot to us. If he can’t go, we’ll have to find a way to have some guys step up similar to the way they did today,” – head coach Darian DeVries said of McGylnn’s status.
For a team that had to play “next man up” mentality all season long, junior guard was Tremell Murphy was that on Friday night, leading the Bulldogs with a career-high 26 points. His previous career-high was 15. Tremell’s twin-brother Anthony also had a career-high 16 points and his previous career-high was 13.
Leading 37-17 at the half, it was the third time this season that Drake held a halftime lead of 20 or more points. “It just gave up a little momentum, and by Coach emphasizing we’ve got 40 minutes to play. That’s another 20.” We have to keep fighting and keep striving and come up with the victory,” – Anthony Murphy said of the halftime lead.
And that’s exactly what Drake did to beat Illinois State, earning their first MVC Tournament win since 2013 that snapped a five-game losing streak. The Bulldogs have won seven out of their last eight games and improved to 24-8 on the year, which are the third-most victories for their program in a single-season.
Drake also advanced to the MVC Semifinals for the first time since 2008 when they won the MVC Tournament Championship.
They’re two wins away from that feat this year as Drake will get Northern Iowa / Southern Illinois in a semifinal match up tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. CT.